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Opposition in Madagascar Seizes the Defense Ministry

March 09, 2002|From Associated Press

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar — Madagascar's opposition seized control of the Defense Ministry on Friday, gaining support of the military in a dispute over the outcome of presidential elections more than two months ago.

Opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana declared himself president after the Dec. 16 elections and organized a series of protests and a strike to force incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka to step down.

Ratsiraka responded by declaring martial law here in the capital, a move that was widely ignored. He then moved his government to Toamasina, an eastern port city.

On Friday, 10 people were hurt when a man threw a grenade into a plaza crowded with opposition supporters in Fianarantsoa, about 160 miles south of Antananarivo.

The attacker, whom opposition officials identified as a Ratsiraka supporter, was arrested. Police made no immediate comment.

With the seizure of the Defense Ministry, Ravalomanana's supporters have taken control of all government buildings except the prime minister's office.

There was no comment Friday from Ratsiraka.

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